Aetna Lawsuit Over HIV Status Settles

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 31, 2019 3:20 PM

Aetna will pay nearly $1 million to California after the company sent almost 2,000 letters exposing patients' HIV status.

The state attorney general announced the $935,000 settlement, which followed a related $17 million settlement against Aetna earlier this year. The state case also requires the health care company to guard against such disclosures in the future.

The problem stemmed from envelopes with windows for addresses. They were so big that anyone could see through the windows the recipients were taking HIV medication.

HIV Medication

According to reports, an Aetna vendor mailed letters to 1,991 Californians that revealed their medical information. The attorney general sued, alleging the company violated the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act and other laws.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Aetna "violated the public's trust." He said the state will continue to "hold these companies accountable."

Meanwhile, those affected are receiving $17 million through a separate lawsuit. In that class-action, the plaintiffs alleged Aetna mailed 12,000 letters to patients in California and other states.

Ironically, NPR said, the letters were sent in response to a settlement over previous privacy issues.

Medical Privacy

Unfortunately for many Americans, their medical information has been compromised more often in recent years. In 2015, hackers exposed nearly 100 million medical records.

In another case, a hospital employee misplaced a laptop with the medical records of more than 5,000 patients. Then somebody stole the laptop.

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